Finding faith in the unexpected

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18 September 2017

Can you imagine Jesus marvelling at someone else’s faith? Today’s gospel shows us the only time we hear of this happening. So, who is this man? A rabbi? A king? A disciple? No. It comes in the most unexpected of people, a Roman soldier.

Jesus had just finished up delivering his most famous series of teachings and is walking down the mountainside of Capernaum when he meets some Jewish leaders. With urgency in their voices, they make a strange request for Jesus to come to the aid of a Roman centurion, and to heal his sick servant. Not only was it odd for Jewish leaders to befriend Roman soldiers – it was just as unusual for Roman soldiers to care for Jews.

With grace working amidst the situation, Jesus goes to the man’s house only to be met by a messenger. The message that Jesus was left with was so profound that Catholics celebrate it even today at Mass before receiving the Eucharist as we proclaim “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

This faithful, humble message, captured as the centurion states “I am not worthy to have you come under my roof” becomes even more profound when we see Roman centurion submit to the authority of Jesus as he says “I too am a man under authority with soldiers under me.” It is this unexpected, rich faith that is marvellous to Jesus when he says, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

A Gentile. A Roman. A man of war. It is in this man we find faith in the unexpected. The faith of the centurion paints a picture of the mission of Jesus on earth. To unite all people, Jew and Gentile alike, together at the banquet of the Lord. This is a reminder for each of us, as we come to the Eucharist, that we all have a seat at the table as one Body of Christ.

Where others may see and judge on what lies on the outside, Jesus looked on the man’s heart. It was in his heart that Jesus saw a profound faith. Jesus cares not for the external values the world places on us. He cares about those who humbly seek Him, and live their lives inspired by the love of God.

Today, let us move beyond our expectations of ourselves and one another, and humbly seek first the kingdom of God in our lives. For it is in the unexpected that faith can be found.

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